Normally, when I reblog posts I’ve read, I pick from a good couple of dozen blogs I read regularly. This means I’m recommending not just a post I think some/many of you will want to read but also a blogsite I trust not to contain views that might wildly offend others.
I’m taking a risk today with a post from a blog I’ve started reading just now. I think it is a fairly safe risk as this is a blog about education and Educationalists tend to be a fairly sensible lot on the whole (granted there are exceptions, I’ll admit). So this one is for all my readers out there who are teachers, parents and students who take an interest in why we teachers do what we do and the reasons we do it for! I’ve had a quick flick and this blog seems ok. I loved THIS post here:
The author, Nina, asks whether we are teaching students for an end product – ie qualifications or to reach a certain set of assessment criteria – or a process – ie to provide development for each of your students individually. She argues the latter is the way we should teach.
“We are not clones,” she says “Students shouldn’t be treated like ones.”
I agree – completely. I do also believe though, that assessment criteria and goals are useful tools and that if you teach well those products will be achieved anyway. As Nina herself points out “independent learners also perform better in the tests.”
She goes into a lot of thoughts that I’ll let you read for yourself but I think what is most important from the view she takes is that if you treat the individual student like an individual and meet their personal needs rather than a ‘one size fits all’ mentality that depersonalises the student, then you give them success and that brings enjoyment.
This is where I agree most. For me, the student’s enjoyment of the learning process is a far more important marker for successful teaching than their achievements against some national criteria. The way I know if they have truly enjoyed my lessons is if they have been motivated to improve themselves and developed for themselves. This way assessment isn’t about “how did you do in comparison with the rest of the country?” – something guaranteed to fail half of all students by definition – and instead makes it “how are you doing in comparison to YOU?” This is a criteria that ALL students can succeed at and empowers their learning.
By happy coincidence, on Facebook today, an old friend of mine posted a quote that got me very excited. It summed up nicely possibly the key foundational principle I have applied in 20 years of teaching. It was this:
“Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they don’t know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.” Sir William Haley
Haley gets the goal exactly right. Nina gives you good advice about how to make sure it happens in your classroom. If you’re a parent, this is the thing you should really want for your children more than anything else (and I am certain they can’t help but succeed in their lives if this goal is achieved). If you are a student, this is what I hope your teachers are giving to you as their legacy. If they have failed (and if I have failed!) then I am truly sorry, but it is not too late to develop this yearning to know more for yourself.
You’ll make this world a better place if you do: I promise.